The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities published its findings in its September review of Australia’s progress in meeting its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
The UN report findings highlight a number of areas for improvement which are of concern for Down Syndrome Australia.
It was noted that a number of the same issues raised at the last review in 2013 had not been adequately addressed and had been raised again as concerns by the Civil Society organisations. These issues raise concerns for DSA about the rights and freedoms of all people with disabilities, including people with intellectual disability.
The UN Committee commented that signing up to the CRPD is ‘meaningless unless it is properly implemented and unless it improves the lives of persons with disabilities’.
The UN review identified concerns including:
- the sterilisation of people with disabilities without free and informed consent;
- institutionalisation of many people with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities, including children;
- housing of younger people with disabilities in aged care;
- segregation of students with disabilities in the education system;
- exclusion of people with disabilities from court procedures and their indefinite detention and
- low rates of employment for people with disabilities.
The review also raised concerns about the NDIS, noting that the Scheme is inaccessible to many people with disabilities due to its complex and complicated procedures, and a lack of available and accessible information. The Scheme also presents barriers to older people, people with disabilities from diverse backgrounds, and people with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities in being assessed as eligible for services.
Amongst a number of these and other issues for improvement, the Committee highlighted concerns about Article 18 of the CRPD (Liberty of movement and nationality).
Current Australian legislation and health requirements for migration allow for discrimination against people with disabilities, which exclude many of those seeking asylum or migration to Australia. The current 10-year qualifying period also prevents migrants with non-permanent visa from access to the Age and Disability Support Pensions.
The current migration requirements mean that people with a disability continue to be assessed as to their potential cost to the health system. It is likely that many people with an intellectual disability will continue to be turned away from the migration process based on potential cost to the system.
The UN Committee recommended that the State party review these migration laws and policies to ensure that people with disabilities do not face discrimination in any of the procedures relating to migration and asylum, and remove exemptions in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 which apply to provisions of the Migration Act.
Down Syndrome Australia will continue to advocate for the rights of people with Down syndrome in Australia and will continue to provide input into the revisions to the migration laws, National Disability Strategy and the implementation of the NDIS.
You can read more about Down Syndrome Australia’s call for an end to discrimination on the basis of disability here.